The Way Home from Rock of Angels

Time seemed to pass me by
As I walked on down the road
No one stopped to pick me up
Carrying this heavy load
But I’m not down, or turning round . . . .
Until I find my way. . . back home

Life seemed to come and go, as I worked away the days
Now I climb this path of stone, lost here in the maze
But I won’t crack, there’s nothing I lack
Until I find my way . . . back home

Love has turned her back on me, and left me all alone
To find my dream from reality, to make my quest my own
But I won’t quit, or stop searching for it
Until I find my way . . . back home

Time seemed to pass me by, as I moved on down the road
No one came to shelter me, left here in the cold
But I’m going on, until the sunrise dawns . . .
When I find my way . . . back home

“The Way Home” remains my personal favorite among the 30 or so songs I have completed remixing this summer as part of the “Rock of Angels” project. The full version of the song with the Joint Operating Band recording features amazing vocals by Monica Guzman, the great piano jam with Bill Miller, Lino Fernandez driving the beat and Casey McNerthney holding down the solid base line that helps glue the entire journey together. Even the echo effects and rudimentary harmonica parts all seem to meld into exactly the composition I first envisioned when writing the song during a dark and difficult time in my life. In many ways, the project did help me find my own way back home.
The underlying guitar lick came first and foremost, and I have to credit my guitar guru, Mike (Pikes) McGlaughlin, with guiding me toward the magic that produced such an inspiration. Mike at the time was getting me to think about playing individual notes, doubling, and other devices to wean me from my strumming tendencies. Also, I had been tinkering more with a capo, and the lick sort of arrived one night when I was tinkering in the key of G.
Driving back to my then-temporary apartment from one of our guitar jams, I recall hearing “Midnight Rider” by the Allman Brothers Band and marveling at the beautiful simplicity of the lyrics, the longing and uncertainty that is conveyed with such specificity: “Some old bed I’ll soon be sharing,” or “The road goes on forever.” Having recently gone through my second divorce, literally losing what had been my home of more than 10 years, the lyrics were written that very night as I tried to “find my way back home” from Mike’s place, winding through the backroads of North Seattle and Lake Forest Park to my subterranean existence in lower Mountlake Terrace, where I had a stunning view of a Laundromat and the parking lot for a 7-Eleven.
Deeper than that, the lyrics also refer to a personal experience with my quintessential roommate at Washington State University, the great merry prankster Scott Clark, who one winter’s day in Pullman convinced me we should try to hitchhike to Spokane in the middle of an incoming snow storm. We made it 20 miles to the crossroads at Colfax, where no one stopped to pick us up as the snow kept piling up and we were finally compelled to walk across the highway, quickly thmbing a ride back to college.
Of course, the chorus of the song sums up my own sense of personal perseverance in the face of all obstacles: “But I’m not down or turning round, until I find my way back home.” For me, moving to my home here at the ocean was the ultimate culmination of that song, and in many ways represents the journey I took to get here. It was hard, painful and full of sorrow, but there is a certain triumph of spirit in the end to know that such a journey only served to make me stronger, wiser, more determined and at pure peace with what I would go on to accomplish to finally arrive at the home of my dreams. It all springs from the joy of expressing a song from my heart and seeing it find a permanent home in the remaining recordings of my time.

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